Giant ‘Sea Monster’ found on Jurassic Coast
|How the pliosaur compares
Pic: Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, Norway
had powerful jaws
Acolossal fossilised skull of a ‘sea monster’, possibly the biggest
of its kind ever found, has been discovered along Britain’s Jurassic
Coast. The giant predator, called a pliosaur, dominated the seas at the
same time as dinosaurs roamed the land, around 150 million years ago.
The beast’s skull is 2.4 metres long, and in total it could have
measured 16 metres and weighed in at a staggering 12 tons. It was
discovered by fossil hunter Kevin Sheehan, who recovered the heavy
fragments over a number of years from Weymouth Bay, Dorset.
Dr David Martill, a palaeontologist from the University of
Portsmouth, said: “This is one of the largest, if not the largest,
pliosaur skull found anywhere in the world and contains features that
have not been seen before. “It could be a species new to science.”
The fossil, which is 90% complete, shows a predator with a huge
powerful jaw lined with razor-sharp teeth, similar to a crocodile’s.
Using four paddle-like limbs to glide through the water, pliosaurs would
have dined on ichthyosaurs - giant reptiles which resembled modern-day
dolphins. Dr Martill said: “These creatures were monsters.
discovered in Dorset
massive big muscles on their necks, and you would have imagined that
they would bite into the animal and get a good grip, and then with these
massive neck muscles they probably would have thrashed the animals
around and torn chunks off.
“It would have been a bit of a blood bath.” The pliosaur skull is the
latest fossil to be discovered on the Jurassic Coast, Britain’s only
natural World Heritage Site, which runs along 95 miles of the Devon and
Dorset coastline. Mr Sheehan said: “In 40 years of collecting, I have
often been green with envy at some of the finds other people have made.
“But now when someone shows me a find, I can say ‘That’s not a
fossil, this pliosaur, that’s a fossil’.” Dorset County Council has
bought the remains and will eventually display them in the county